An Italian winery selling a line of Nazi and fascist wines has outraged both tourists and Jewish human rights organizations. Under the label known as the Historical Line, the winemaker Vini Lunardelli’s series celebrates the lives of such personalities in world political history including Che Guevara, Churchill, Napoleon, Marx, Mussolini, and Hitler.
The Hitler label features over 20 different images of Adolf Hitler – more than any other leader in the wine series featured on the company’s website – in various salutes and poses with Nazi slogans such as Heil Hitler and Mein Kampf. Other Nazi figures that the Vini Lunardelli wines feature is Rudolf Hess and notorious SS Officer Heinrich Himmler, who organized mass murder of Jews during the Third Reich.
A Norwegian couple vacationing in northeastern Italy this week said they were shocked to find the controversial wines being sold there, according to a report in the Daily Telegraph. And an American couple, Matthew and Cindy Hirsch, in northern Italy, were also disturbed to find the wines sold in a local Italian supermarket during a vacation last year in Garda. Cindy Hirsch’s father was a Holocaust survivor, whose parents and other family members were killed in the Auschwitz concentration camp.
“I was shocked,” Mrs. Hirsch told the Daily Telegraph last year. “It is not only an affront to Jews, even if my husband and I are Jewish. It is an affront to humanity as a whole.”
After the Norwegian couple initial shock a week ago, the LA-based human rights group, the Simon Wiesenthal Center, released a statement denouncing the selling of these wine products and called for their boycott.
“The Wiesenthal Center denounces the marketing of these products and urges wine distributors in Italy and around the world to send the only message the owner of this firm might understand that they choose not to do any business with someone using the Nazi mass murderer as a blatant marketing tool.”
The Wiesenthal center has been protesting the selling of the Hitler wines since the line came out in 1995.
Half of the Vini Lunardelli company’s wine production is dedicated to the Historical Line which has 50 different historical personalities and has become a cult object among collectors according to the company’s website. The website also notes that the Historical Line has garnered the wine company a lot of attention “from the media all over the world both for the originality of the idea and for the quality of wines.”
The direct manager and creator of the line at the wine company, Andrea Lunardelli, told Tazpit News Agency, that the Historical Line started off as a joke in response to a request from one of the company’s customers and that now the company sells many bottles.
“But we never want to do politics or to eulogize Hitler and his men or Mussolini or to offend someone,” Lunardelli responded in an e-mail to Tazpit on Monday. She also added that most of the buyers of the Hitler wines are German, but that there are orders from Austria and Eastern Europe as well.
Lunardelli also stated the Italian wine company, based in Udine, had removed Nazi symbols like the swastika and the SS symbol from the labels, and that it doesn’t use racist phrases but only nationalist phrases.
“Enough is enough,” said the Simon Wiesenthal Center’s, Rabbis Marvin Hier and Abraham Cooper of the Hitler wines, which have been sold widely across Italy for nearly 20 years. “We first protested the marketing of ‘Führerwein’ in 1995. Now an expanded line of wines that demean, diminish and mock Hitler’s victims are promoted on a slick website.”
Anav Silverman writes for Tazpit News Agency.